At this time of year I always feel the need to share something around exercise and illness – because I feel we all need a little reminder about how vulnerable yet clever our bodies truly are.
As someone who cares deeply about your health, and is super keen on educating people to enhance their own health, I feel privileged to be able to share these thoughts with you.
My first point is quite blunt, so I'll just come out and say it – when we are sick (like more than just a sniffle) we should not be doing exercise. Full stop. No exceptions. And certainly not in the way of thrashing our bodies in the name of getting calories burnt or kilometres done.
When we have strep throat, tonsillitis, chest infections, sinus infections, throat infections, UTIs, have a fever, a super heady cold, the flu, or are on antibiotics for some form of illness we should not be doing any form of intense exercise.
When we're carrying infection or illness our clever little bodies are running a marathon on the inside to help us heal and be well again.
Every little ounce of energy and every last immunological resource within us that our body can spare is being sent to attack and defeat the bacteria or virus that is trying to take shelter within us.
When our body is in healing mode it struggles to focus on anything else – healing is its priority.
What our body doesn't need, therefore, is for us to expect it to be able to successfully 'run a marathon' on the outside. This is incredibly stressful on our bodies, and it puts it under an incredible amount of strain when it is already feeling beaten.
Our bodies have an inherent intelligence to protect and strengthen us first, before anything else. We are best to not toy with this ability, and instead allow our body to give all of its power to fighting the infection.
Cotton wool and helicopters - let children be children
Comment: Exercise is medicine … right?
The more space and energy we allow for this to happen, the sooner we'll overcome said infection.
When we're battling illness, our bodies are already weakened. By throwing strenuous exercise at it we are only weakening it more. There is zero benefit to physically stressing our body during these times.
Zero. Do not do it.
I urge you, please listen to your bodies. There are so many other times of the year and days of the week when we can exercise. Exercise can wait.
In the meantime, exercise patience and compassion for your amazing body instead.
The only exceptions I would make to this rule is that a gentle walk, a stroll, a meander, a leisurely wander, can be healing - both physically and mentally.
As can some very gentle stretching or mobility work - especially ground-based. BUT this is ONLY if you feel that your body and mind would benefit from this - because sometimes in the depth of the flu there just simply isn't the extra energy to expend on anything.
So as we traverse the deepest, darkest and most illness-bound months of the year, please dear friend, use some common sense when you are under the weather. Allow yourself the time, space, and capacity to heal.
• Corinne Austin is a health and movement coach (email@example.com).